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IGS: Totilo, Croal Talk Indie Ethos

In an afternoon session at the Independent Games Summit on Tuesday, Newsweek's N'Gai Croal and MTV News' Stephen Totilo discussed the state of independent games in the media, and their personal opinions on how to get noticed in the indie game business.
In an afternoon session at the Independent Games Summit on Tuesday, Newsweek's N'Gai Croal and MTV News' Stephen Totilo discussed the state of independent games in the media, and their personal opinions on how to get noticed in the indie game business. Starting off, Croal quipped of the state of indie: "This is right around Sundance started up... but before Sex, Lies & Videotape." The expectation of the independent movement right now, according to Totilo, is: "This is going to be different... because now there's going to be no filters." This is sometimes true - but as the duo stressed, you need to find a unique selling point. Totilo also noted that PR plans for XBLA and PSN games are "not nearly as aggressive" as retail ones, even when Microsoft and Sony are sending out information on behalf of those indie developers. Obviously, the above isn't always the case, and Croal particularly noted that it's all about "...teaching people who make indie games about the PR process.... you have to be both an artist and a hustler, but you can't confuse the two." As he noted even of his own personal efforts to promote his own Level Up weblog to a select band of higher-end influencers and key outlets: "I spam some of the journalists I respect the most." Moving on, Totilo underlined that the story behind the game is as or more important than the game itself - particularly to the mainstream media, and increasingly in the industry in general. Croal chimed in on this that you can look to other industries, ending on a bit of a boggling but fair comparison in terms of people who have woven personal stories into great media messages: "50 Cent is an interesting story... Jonathan Blow is an interesting story... Jonathan Mak is an interesting story." Overall, the duo urged, above all, that if you have a unique message and you target independent-minded journalists and influencers, indies can get noticed through the crowd of even mainstream games.

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